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John Carlos feels déjà vu watching NFL protests

John Carlos

FILE - In this Oct. 16, 1968, file photo, extending gloved hands skyward in racial protest, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze medal in the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. Carlos and Smith staged one of the most iconic protests in sports history, when they raised their fists during the medals ceremony at the 1968 Olympics. They were sent home immediately by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which spent decades wrestling with how and whether the sprinters should be honored. The International Olympic Committee has rules against using the games for political statements, though Scott Blackmun of the U.S. Olympic Committee said, “Our stance on this is fairly clear, and we recognize the rights of athletes to express themselves.” (AP Photo/File)

AP

John Carlos, who famously raised his black-gloved fist on the 1968 Olympic medal stand, said he felt déjà vu as current athletes, including NFL players, made other gestures in support of human rights in recent weeks.

“I felt like I was a horticulturer or a gardener,” Carlos, the 1968 Olympic 200m bronze medalist, said on CNN on Sunday. “I planted seeds and tilled the earth and watered it. And then 50 years later, here we are. We see the fruits of our labor. There’s many individual kids that understand now, far greater than they did 50 years ago, it’s about worth, self-sacrifice to make a better world.

“These individuals are making statements now to say, hey, my career is a fine situation for me, God blessed me with this talent, but it goes beyond the talent that God gave me. I’m concerned about the talents being lost in my community. ... These individuals right now are stepping up and saying, ‘We are setting the tide now because it’s not for us that we make these statements. It’s for our kids to make sure that they have a better opportunity in life down the line.’”

Carlos and gold medalist Tommie Smith were kicked out of Mexico City Games for their podium gesture. At least four NFL players similarly raised their fists Sunday, either during the national anthem or, like Cam Newton, during the game.

Carlos, who briefly played professional football after his track career, repeated Sunday that he would protest in the same way again.

“The price was worth it,” he said. “I would sacrifice one more time today because it’s not about my sacrifice. It’s about revolutionizing the industry to make them understand that everyone deserves a fair shot in life.”

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